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Ashvegas movie review: The Heat

| July 2, 2013 | Comments (3)
A film that knocks you on your ass, and not in a good way. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The Heat knocks you on your ass,
and not in a good way.
(Twentieth Century Fox)

It gives me no pleasure to report that The Heat is an absolute nightmare.  Despite a likable cast and crew tackling a situation ripe for big laughs, the actual product is lazy, unfunny, and a giant step backwards for its leading ladies.  Looking to build on the success of Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig and writer Katie Dippold take the awkward, stutter-step comedy of Feig’s 2011 hit, but have neither Kristen Wiig’s solid content nor (surprisingly) performers equipped to construct a winning rapport.  The resulting two unfocused hours is a giant missed opportunity and an all-around dreadful time at the movies.

 (Twentieth Century Fox)

Stay classy, Boston.
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Setting up the odd couple clash to come, The Heat begins with introductions of straight-laced FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and brash Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) that capture each officer’s gist within seconds, yet are dragged out until the experience becomes a chore.  Such is the film’s M.O., one of painful, overlong attempts at comedy dominated by ad-libs that hang in the air, unsupported by laughter.  Bullock, clearly out of her element, doesn’t stand a chance in this improvised environment and isn’t helped by an unrestrained McCarthy, whose loudmouth, rant-heavy approach comes dangerously close to caricature status.  Together, the opposing styles find no synergy and lead to the kind of disaster that seemed almost impossible from this talented pairing.

An unintentional metaphor for the film, more spanx are needed to hold The Heat together. (Twentieth Century Fox)

An unintentional metaphor for the film,
more than just spanx are needed to hold The Heat together.
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Composed of dreadful, half-assed sketches that often feel barely related to one another, the structure is an unfortunate mess.  Little more than isolated excuses to be wacky, multiple bits take the story on inconsequential tangents, further diluting an already rickety narrative.  While the dialogue that crops up as Ashburn and Mullins unwillingly join forces to take down a drug lord may have been funny during filming, the effect doesn’t translate to the screen.  Investing heavily in sophomoric jabs at albinos and tired Boston stereotypes, the improv’s most glaring fallout is the shocking lack of chemistry it inspires between the two leads.  When a mutual respect inevitably arises, it’s unearned and unconvincing, their mutual disgust morphing into best friend status in a snap.  That the pair’s love for one another must be revealed through forced speeches is perhaps the clearest evidence of the film’s ineptitude and certifies an already long kaput film upon delivery.

"Maybe if we refer to ourselves enough times as The Heat, they'll name the movie after us." (Twentieth Century Fox)

“Maybe if we refer to ourselves as The Heat enough times,
they’ll name the movie after us.”
(Twentieth Century Fox)

On top of the comedic failures, The Heat extends the R-rating from its pointlessly crass language to a baffling inclusion of blood and violence.  Apparently intended to heighten the dangers of law enforcement, the random gore further distracts from the story’s shortcomings, looks cheap, and is ineffective as a means of humor or terror.  Along with wasting the talents of supporting stars Demián Bichir, Jane Curtin, Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future; Freaks and Geeks), and Zach Woods (The Office; In the Loop), the film wastes the audience’s time with its lack of preparation and clueless execution.  Capable of far better work, the chief players deliver an improbable dud whose worthlessness may sting now, but will smart even more once its all but assured sequel is greenlit.

Grade: F

Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence.

The Heat is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST16k80bDYE]

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Category: Asheville film

About Edwin Arnaudin: Edwin Arnaudin is a freelance writer and a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). View author profile.

Comments (3)

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  1. [...] out are R.I.P.D., Turbo, Grown Ups 2, and The Heat, proving that sometimes garbage day is my favorite day of the [...]

  2. Stephanie Smith says:

    Did we watch the same movie?! Our packed audience laughed (sometimes roaring laughter) through the whole movie, as a matter of fact I can’t wait for the dvd release so that I can hear the large portion I missed from being drowned out by laughter! Most of the audience even applauded at the end! This is the only negative review I’ve seen… My guess is you weren’t in the proper mood to enjoy a comedy. I heard two men conversating about how shocked they were at how good it was because they expected it to be more of a chick flick, perhaps that is a wide sentiment amongst men and therefore not given a proper chance by some.

    • Edwin Arnaudin says:

      Our disagreement is simply a case of you responding well to this style of humor and it not working for me…and that’s OK. (Read my “This Is The End” review if you want my take on a good comedy.) I realize that I’m in the minority on disliking Melissa McCarthy’s brash-and-loud routine, seeing as “Identity Thief” made $135 million and “The Heat” is closing in on $100 million, but the shtick was played out before “Bridesmaids” was over. Her good ‘ol “Gilmore Girls” days seem eons ago.

      As for this being the only negative review you’ve read, Ken Hanke didn’t like the film either and it’s only at 59 on MetaCritic.

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